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2 Weeks 'Til Christmas (a day late!)

Pet safety during the Holidays.

I was knocked out with a flu all day yesterday and so am just getting to post this now. I can't believe there are 2 weeks - 13 days really! - until Christmas! Today I decorated one of our trees. The cat LOVES to see the decorations come out - I find it so cute that animals enjoy the holidays just as much as we do! Here are some things to keep in mind if you have pets around during Christmas:
  • New pets - First of all, remember that now is not the ideal time to bring a new pet into your home - people are coming and going, there is no regular routine, and there are far too many temptations (boxes, ribbons, food) for a pup or kitten in training. Ditto for "potty" training - a new pup really can't be expected to hold for more than a couple of hours - which is not ideal if you are out partying!
  • Tree - Make sure your tree is well secured, as sparkling lights and ornaments can entice many a cat to climb and explore!! If your tree is real, make sure you don't add any chemicals to the water in case the pets decide to take a sip. And sweep up those pine needles regularly - they are sharp and can stick into the pads of your pet's paws. Cover the electrical cord from the lights and/or tape it down so that it is not a chewing hazard. And avoid tinsel  - cats adore it - shiny string! - but it can get tangled up if swallowed and block their intestinal track. Best not to use it at all, or ensure it is high on the tree if you can't live without it.
  • Foods - Some popular holiday foods can be toxic or poisonous to dogs & cats. Ensure chocolate is well out of reach of dogs, as it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Don't leave alcoholic beverages out on the coffee table where a curious pup could get a nip. Some artificial sweeteners can cause liver damage, so any foods containing them should be kept out of reach. Also, while both cats and dogs love a nice turkey bone, do not indulge them, as the bones can splinter and get caught on their tongue or in their throat. If you cook a roast or ham, ensure the string you had it wrapped in gets to the garbage pronto - it'll seem so tasty to your furry friend, but like tinsel, can be hazardous if swallowed. 
  •  Plants - Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and lillies can be harmful and/or poisonous if swallowed in large amounts, so keep them out of pets' reach. If you have a cat, keep them in a room you can bar the cat from entering so they can't climb up if tempted to eat them.
  • Gifts/Stockings - When unwrapping your presents, pick up the paper and ribbon pronto so it can not tempt your pet. Same with any toys or gifts that have small parts - put them out of reach so your pet can't chew on them. If you give gifts to your pet, now is not the time to try a new food - it could cause stomach upset to change their diet or introduce a new texture/taste or brand. And buy their gifts from a reputable pet company, so you know the quality is good. Don't give a child's stuffed animal to your pet as a chew toy - it could have parts that may become dislodged and harm your pet.
  • Noises - Avoid loud or sudden noises if possible as pets can be panicked by an unfamiliar sound. This might include Christmas crackers, noisemakers, fireworks, popping balloons and/or the pop from a champagne bottle.
  • Vet - To be on the safe side, check with your vet to make sure you know their holiday hours, and what services they offer in the event of an emergency. Know the pager number if they plan to have someone on call.

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